I’m planning my summer holiday, as I guess many of you are. And along with the eternal question of ‘how many clothes do I need for a week in a tent?’ there is the greater problem of ‘which perfume to take?’
It’s more than just a frivolity though. Your finest fragrance is safest at home when there’s a risk of it being confiscated at customs, or wandering off if your luggage gets separated from you. And if you’re flying, you can’t take anything in your hand luggage in a bottle of more than 100mls, or anything that won’t fit into that little plastic bag. That bag doesn’t hold much, especially when you’ve got to fit toothpaste, mascara and suncream in there as well. Equally, if like me you’re going camping, you don’t want to take any precious fragrance that can get boiled in a hot tent, lost, squashed or stepped on.
I have some sneaky little work-arounds for travelling: minis and samples are the easiest way to slip some scent into that plastic baggie, while solid fragrances don’t even have to go in it, hoorah! There are some beautiful fragrances available in solid form, often in really pretty little compacts. Very useful to keep in my handbag, even when camping. I have a gorgeous little vintage Hermes 24 Faubourg solid compact that is absolutely stunning, and perfect for holidays as a touch of something sophisticated to wear in the evening. I also have a solid compact of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Premier Figuier to wear during the daytime, when I’m not doused in Eau de Cologne, which I buy when I’m in France for just a few Euro and decant into a little pray bottle form the chemist’s. I take a selection of samples, because they’re perfect for holidays and I have time to test and enjoy them, and I also pack my travel sprays; after all, this is what they were made for.
Crazy Libellule and the Poppies are a now-defunct brand of solid perfumes in twist-up sticks that were excellent value and had lovely, complex fragrances. Personal favourites are Dans Tes Bras, a peachy woody fragrance that reminds me very much of Serge Lutens’ Feminite du Bois, and Homage á Gabrielle, which is a sophisticated chyprish, leatherish floralish thing that definitely pays respect to Chanel’s most famous creations. Their mantle has been inherited by the Le Soft range, created by Sephora’s founder Isabelle Masson, and I have continued to explore the idea of complex solid perfumes through this company, as well as through natural perfumers. I own and enjoy Rock, which is unisex with its fresh green bergamot-laden topnotes, leather and sandalwood heart and amber and patchouli base – worth noting for men, actually, as they often are underserved in this category. Etre Ici Et Ailleurs is a more classical soft floral enriched with a zip of pink pepper, while Nemiah’s citrus, amber and musk is adorably fluffy to the point where my daughter keeps borrowing it.
I must give a mention to the delights of natural solid perfumes, which seem to be a medium some US perfumers have perfected – Mandy Aftelier’s Bergamoss is a stunning mossy chypre that’s available in a solid, and Roxana Illuminated Perfumes’ Vera and GreenWitch are available in solid form and are complex, layered and glorious in the summer with a combination of freshness and richness.
If you’re heading for the Mediterranean or somewhere delightfully roasty, lucky you! While it’s lovely to be in 35C+, it’s another reason to avoid taking your most precious perfume away. Heat and light are the enemies of perfume, as they encourage the ingredients to oxidise and degrade (this is why you’re recommended to keep your perfume in its box in a cool place, not on the bathroom windowsill). But I want to enjoy my fragrance while I’m away just as much as I do at home; perhaps more, because holidays are all about self-indulgence, aren’t they? For that reason, I’m happy to take away a 5 or 10ml atomiser of something lovely, and leave my full size bottle at home. If you’ve ever considered buying a Travalo (or similar) purse spray, this is the time to do it – decant in some of your favourite and carry it around without worrying. Frankly, I would go for Hermes Un Jardin en Mediterranee if I was heading to the Riviera, so I could wear it there and enjoy the memories when I came home.
This year, along with the brilliantly-designed sample tin for Tauer fragrances that lives in my handbag at all times, I’m packing my prized travel spray of Carthusia Capri Forget Me Not edt, with its cool, soft notes of citrus, fig and mint. In my tent in Devon, I will enjoy a reminder of Capri’s sunshine and flowers.
Where are you off on holiday this year? Will you be choosing a fragrance to remind you of your trip? Or will you be bringing some home as a souvenir?